After Lucia’s sudden departure from the space inside the coliseum, everyone else decided to leave as well once someone noticed she left four unconscious, but alive, predators behind. Why did she keep them alive…? I thought it’d be safe outside, but that’s when the trouble started. A massive dragon descended from the sky, and there was nothing we could do to stop it since Mrs. Wuffletush was still in the area. She fled after sustaining heavy damages, and Cain was getting ready to fight the dragon, but one of the predators from inside the coliseum woke up and came out. I’m not sure how it figured out the exiting method was to spin around five times, but it did.
The only reason why I’m alive right now is because of the man riding on top of the dragon, Snow. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s Snow given Lucia’s description of him. He looks like Reena, but he has a flower clipped to the base of his ear, making him more feminine. Well, I thought it was clipped on, but my father pointed out the roots growing from Snow’s head. Evelyn, one of the princesses of the human empire, paled and fainted at the sight. I’m not sure why. She did mutter something about Bryant though. Currently, we’re at a standstill. There’s four predators surrounding us from the back and the sides, and there’s a dragon facing us from the front. By us, I mean every single person from the coliseum. I really dislike predators. They make me feel so helpless. Why the hell did Lucia not take them with her!?
“So,” Snow said from atop the dragon’s head. His eyes were bloodshot, and veins bulged on every surface of his exposed skin. “These are the people in charge of the sky and earth plane? Quite a pitiful lot, aren’t you?” He jumped off the dragon and landed on a predator’s back. He patted the dragon’s leg. “Burn the rest of the city down. Smoke out the survivors and kill them.”
The dragon roared and flew into the air, flapping its massive black wings. It had yellow eyes, four legs that were as thick as tree trunks, and a tail that was as long as the rest of its body. I’ve seen pictures of dragons before, but I never thought I’d see one in real life. I thought they went extinct.
“You’re Snow Flopsy,” one of the human survivors said. “Was all of this planned by you? The predators? The crazy squirrel girl? The dragon? How are you controlling them? What do you want from us?”
“Snow Flopsy, yes,” Snow said and tilted his head. His mouth didn’t seem to be moving in time with his words—like they were delayed while coming out of his lips. “But not quite. You can call me Snow Larkspur. I’ve joined the Larkspur family, and you’d do well to follow me. In fact, that’s why I’ve come here. I want to invite”—his head swiveled around like a broken puppet’s—“all of you”—blood leaked from the flower on his ear—“to my family.”
There’s something seriously wrong with him. I’m getting shivers just by looking at him. He doesn’t seem like a person anymore. It’s jarring. The way he moves, the way he talks, the sound of his voice, and the dead look in his eyes, all of it makes me think he’s already dead and controlled by someone.
“Has anyone heard of the Larkspur family?” a human asked. “Are they from the fae? There’s no such family among the humans and demons.”
The lionkin that despised acorn stew shook his head. “There’s no Larkspur in our lands either.”
Where the heck did Lucia go? What is she doing? Whatever she’s doing, I hope she hurries it up! I hate this feeling of powerlessness. I hate it. I can’t cast spells because the predators emit some kind of energy that disrupts my mana. But how? If I can figure out how it’s being interrupted, couldn’t I take measures to prevent the predators’ effects?
Snow clapped his hands once. Then twice. Then he lowered his arms and blinked hard. “The Larkspur family is not from your plane. We’re from the wind and thunder plane.”
Cain’s face paled, and he hid behind me, even crouching behind my back. What the hell? Why was Cain hiding behind a fourteen-year-old girl!? “Lord Thunderfire!” I whispered in my fiercest voice. “Have you no shame?”
“Sshh!” Cain shushed me and peeked through my arm and my side to see if Snow was watching. “I don’t get along well with the people of the wind and thunder plane.”
“Have you been to the place he’s talking about?” I asked while Snow was distracted by other people’s questions. “By plane … does he mean another world?”
Cain glanced at Snow. The rabbitkin seemed intent on doing a question and answer session. “You could say that. Once you reach the legendary realm, you’ll understand. Just think of the Larkspur family as a family from another country where dragons are as common as scavenger crows. Compared to them, all the royal families might as well be country bumpkins.”
“You’re serious?” I’ve never heard about this. Not even in any books. Well, there were some vague creation myths and legends that might fit with this scenario, but those are myths and legends!
“You saw the dragon, didn’t you? After discovering their plane, I … fell into despair for a while. I finally reached the peak, but I realized I was just a big fish in a little pond. That’s why I hoped for you to be my disciple, so I could raise the next generation to be strong enough to protect our plane. I’m not the first one to discover their existence,” Cain whispered. His eyes narrowed. “The Godking did as well. He used Durandal and Vera as seals to prevent our plane from being found once he realized the disparity between our planes’ strengths. But that idiot squirrel girl undid one seal. These plant demons have been invading our lands ever since Durandal chose her as an owner. It was only a matter of time for a major family in the wind and thunder plane to figure out what was going on.”
“You said you didn’t get along well with them? So you can’t negotiate for us?” I wonder if this is how wild beasts feel like when we encroach on their territory and cut down their trees and homes. It’s not a pleasant feeling at all.
“I, uh, stole some dragon cores from their family,” Cain said, his face cramping. “And may or may not have killed one of them to do it.”
“So what will it be, ladies? Gentlemen?” Snow asked, his voice echoing through the whole city. Even the crackling of the flames and the roars of the dragon were drowned out. I shivered and met Snow’s gaze, stepping in front of Cain. “Now that you know the circumstances, will you swear loyalty on your souls to my family, or will you choose destruction?”
“What do you think, Ilya?” my father asked. “Become puppets for some plant people or death?”
Snow pointed at the acorn stew-hating lionkin. “You, make your choice.”
The lionkin stared at the ground. He clenched his fists. “I want to live!”
Snow nodded and pulled a seed out of his bag. “Very well,” he said, offering the seed to the lionkin. “Put this up your nose.”
The lionkin hesitated before grabbing the seed. He grimaced and took in a deep breath as he positioned the seed on his finger. Then he jammed it up his nose. A second later, his eyes widened and bestial screams rang out of his mouth. A green tendril snaked out of his ear and grew into a bud. Then it blossomed into a purple flower. A line of drool fell from the lionkin’s mouth as his eyes glazed over.
Snow smiled at the sight and pointed at the human standing next to the lionkin. “Make your choice.”
“I, I’d rather die than become food for a plant!” the man shouted and charged at Snow, brandishing his sword. The predator underneath Snow blurred, and the man was bisected by a single swipe.
“Foolish,” Snow said and shrugged. His gaze locked onto a woman who tried to run away. The dragon dashed over from its position in the sky and breathed a breath of flames on her before she could get very far. Even her bones had turned to ash.
Is this how I’m going to die? By having a plant shoved up my nose which will eat my face? That’s a depressing way to go. Maybe I should just let the predator kill me. It seems less painful.
Was that Lucia’s voice? How far away was she?
The world turned red. It was as if blood had been smeared on everything: the sky, the ground, the people. The phenomenon lasted for a few seconds. When the world regained its color, the dragon in the sky became a headless dragon in the sky. Its head, which was falling towards the ground, blinked and shifted its gaze around while opening and closing its mouth. Its wings continued to flap as if its body hadn’t realized it was already dead. Then it froze, and the massive dragon plummeted towards the ground with a crash.
Lucia’s laugh echoed through the city, and the predators all stiffened before rolling onto their backs while playing dead. Then a flying squirrelkin girl … slammed into a nearby streetlamp. Maybe it wasn’t appropriate to say she flew. I’ll try again. Then a falling squirrelkin girl slammed into a nearby streetlamp.